It’s been a while since we last heard from Gravity Guild, whose release ‘I’ so impressed a while back, so we were more than pleased when the band’s new, semi-acoustic EP ‘the great divide’ arrived in our mailbox. An alternative metal band, Gravity Guild have never been afraid to try something different and so when, on the first track alone, you can hear elements of Alice in Chains colliding with the likes of Opeth’s awkward chord sequences, you know you’re onto a band who have something special to offer, and so it transpires for ‘the great divide’ is a fine piece of work.
Opening track ‘my own worst enemy’, as mentioned above, pulls elements of Alice in Chains, Opeth and even soundgarden for a lush, progressive-oriented piece that recalls the grandeur of AiC’s ‘Jar of flies’ EP and the song is as surprising as it is impressive. Deftly orchestrated you can see that the band have put a huge amount of work into developing their sound and, as this is an acoustic EP, there are no huge guitar riffs to hide behind, meaning that they’ve worked exceptionally hard to craft seven songs that stand on the wonderful melodies and excellent musicianship we’ve come to expect from Gravity Guild. ‘Fallen down’ is a personal favourite, the song’s rich tapestry bringing to mind the patchouli-scented psychedelia of Screaming Trees and Charissa Nicole’s backing vocals are a most welcome addition to, adding subtle depth to Colin Simson’s rich, warm tones. Perhaps more surprising is ‘emotion sickness’ with its warbling organ coming straight from the Procul Harum school of rock whilst Sander Owen’s hypnotic rhythms draw the listener into the band’s exotic, Eastern-tinged world.
‘The game’ sees the band change tack and deliver a slice of southern rock (complete with aching slide guitar) that wouldn’t sound out of place on Zakk Wylde’s ‘book of shadows’ album. Again, it is the band’s musicianship that impresses with Jay Way’s stunning guitar work perfectly phrased and recorded, the overall sound so gorgeously enveloping that you end up wrapped up in its velvet heart, unwilling to return to reality for the duration of the EP. It’s simply a brilliant track, and one that deserves to spread to the widest audience possible demonstrating that Gravity Guild are one of those rare band’s capable of writing songs that truly speak to the listener. It’s rich, beautiful, deep and rewarding and it’s clear that the band are entirely unafraid to try new things, holding their own skills and their audience in equal esteem – the band brave enough to craft such a record and their audience accepting enough to embrace it whole-heatedly. ‘It’s not the end of the world’ sticks in the bluesy, slide-driven vein, recalling The Black Crowes at their very best in the process and you can only stand in awe of a band who have developed such a comprehensively different sound over the course of one album and one EP – it’s hard blues but with a gospel feel, thanks to the layered vocals, and it’s impossible not to feel a surge of adrenalin-charged euphoria at the sheer joyful brilliance of it.
The final two tracks are ‘time and again’, a piano-led, country-tinged piece of work that pulls us back into the darker territory of Alice in Chains, albeit with a twist, and it never sounds like anything less than the Gravity Guild drawing upon the strength of their influences to create something entirely their own. The final track is ‘last act of a desperate man’, a song that plays fast and loose with the idea of acoustic and which reaches a fine crescendo of multi-layered vocals, brilliant percussion and a solid wall of guitars which remind you of the power and intensity of Gravity Guild unleashed.
This is a brilliant EP. Few bands follow up a debut album with a release so different, and yet Gravity Guild are still recognisably the same band – the passion, the power, the intensity – it’s all there, just transformed into an experience that is deeply rewarding and a fine display of the band’s remarkable potency. Without careful thought, an acoustic EP can be a dull, drawn-out affair, but Gravity Guild have taken the opportunity of a more subtle approach to experiment with layers of instrumentation in a way that demonstrates their passion for and joy in making original, exciting music and the listener is left in no doubt that the next full-length album has the potential to be even better. A remarkable, beautiful release, this deserves your attention.